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September 2015 Archives

September 2, 2015

The grandest mass of all

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Of all the requiems in the classical repertoire, Berlioz's is the grandest. Entitled Grand Messe des Morts, it was composed for performance in 1837 in the huge church of Les Invalides (photograph courtesy of Victor Grigas). It demands resources on a enormous scale and, as a result, it is seldom performed. It is scored for a full orchestra (including four sets of timpani) and enhanced by four off-stage brass bands, a full chorus and solo tenor. We know this music well from listening to the LSO recording on CD, and were intrigued to know how the live performance would differ (Usher Hall, 22 August). The answer is night and day.

We were lucky enough to be sitting in the Grand Circle, where three of the four brass bands (trumpets, trombones and a tuba) were stationed in the aisles, the fourth aloft in the organ gallery. The effect of the brass ensembles in the Dies Irae and Rex tremendae was electrifying. No recording can convey the spine-tingling excitement of these relays of fanfares which build the sense of drama, doom and torment.

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra with precision and economy, the Edinburgh Festival Chorus celebrated their 50 years by singing their hearts out and the tenor soloist Lawrence Brownlee was splendid. How terrifying it must be to sit waiting for so long for the Sanctus before starting to sing. Berlioz' orchestration is wonderfully varied and this music has been ringing in my ears ever since.

The evening led to reflections of a different kind, about how delicate the Festival organisers' financial balancing act must be. Even if you discount the excellent vounteers of the Festival Chorus, the number of professional musicians in the Berlioz is daunting: conductor, tenor soloist, chorus master and an orchestra of 120 musicians. Yet the Festival has to sell this concert at the same ticket prices as the previous evening, when pianist Lang Lang filled the Usher Hall: number of professional musicians just one!

September 12, 2015

Ingliston Revival: Sandy Bloomer on radio and TV

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Yesterday began by listening to son Sandy on Good Morning Scotland, speaking about the Ingliston Revival that he and his team organised for this weekend. The track opened 50 years ago and became Scotland's main centre for motor racing. It hosted many powerful cars and famous drivers, including Jackie Stewart and the late Jim Clark, before it closed in 1994.

The weekend is not about racing, however, but more a festival to celebrate motor sport and Ingliston's history. The public will be able to drive on this newly renovated track in a choice of cars. Sandy's interview will be on iPlayer for the next 28 days here: scroll along to 1 hour 56 minutes and catch the next four minutes.

Later he was on STV's Fountainbridge Show: there is footage of his interview and of the cars in action from about minute 5 to minute 7, but available for only a few more days.

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The day ended with a spectacular dinner, with speeches by Lee McKenzie (BBC's Formula One reporter) and Ben Collins (Top Gear's original Stig) who arrived in style by helicopter. We were lucky enough to have the wonderful racing driver Tom Brown on our table, with his daughter Fiona who runs Cambuslang Karting. The auction raised thousands of pounds for the Jim Clark Trust, and this event looks set to be an annual success.

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About September 2015

This page contains all entries posted to Jacquetta in September 2015. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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